Lauren Nedrow was just about to turn 18 when she officially joined Scouts BSA in February 2019, and she figured she would only have about six weeks to be a member of Troop 82 in Brownstown, Pennsylvania, before she aged out of the program. Her brothers’ and father’s rank of Eagle Scout seemed out of reach for her and her triplet sister, Lyndsey.
But that same month, Scouts BSA also announced that all girls aged 16-17 on Feb. 1, 2019, who joined a Troop could apply for an extension to allow the completion of Eagle rank requirements. Nedrow said she and her sister couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
In 2018 and 2019, Nedrow had helped form the all-female Troop 82 when Boys Scouts of America announced it was opening its doors to girls and changing the name of its youth program to Scouts BSA.
“Our goal,” in starting Troop 82, said Nedrow, “was to lay a foundation for younger girls so they would have a starting point, or older role models at least, to continue the program.”
And so, on Oct. 1, as a Pitt sophomore studying neuroscience in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, Nedrow, along with her sister, became among of the first women in history to earn Eagle rank. They celebrated during a virtual meeting from Nedrow’s on-campus apartment.
“It was definitely emotional,” said Nedrow. “We never would’ve believed anyone who told us it was possible for us to get it … we weren’t even sure it would happen in our lifetime, let alone while we were still in the age range to participate.”
And as Troop 82 Scoutmaster Erin Blank knows, earning Eagle rank is no small feat.
“Eagle rank is a highly regarded achievement for a youth in America,” said Blank. “To be able to do it, they not only have to show the skills in and be stewards of the outdoors, but they learn the importance of citizenship and apply the skills that they’ve learned by being leaders in Scouts BSA and teaching the younger Scouts.”
In addition to earning at least 21 merit badges, gathering recommendations and serving in Scout leadership roles, one of the requirements to earn Eagle rank is to complete an Eagle Scout Service Project. With aspirations of going to medical school, Nedrow began working with a hospital near her hometown to develop her project.
Then, the coronavirus pandemic hit and the project was canceled.
As she finished her second semester at Pitt from home, she quickly had to come up with a new project idea. “I was watching the news like just about everyone else in the country and every news channel was covering the shortages of face masks and how health care professionals didn’t have the supplies they needed,” said Nedrow. “I knew how to sew, so I organized a group of volunteers to cut materials, sew fabric, donate materials and donate face masks.”
In all, Nedrow coordinated the creation and donation of almost 600 face masks to a local home health care and nursing organization.
Moving forward, she knows that the time and effort she put into becoming an Eagle Scout will carry her through college and through life.
“A common saying is ‘Once an Eagle, always an Eagle,’ because even after you earn the achievement, you continue developing and applying those skills,” she said, including here at Pitt, where she is on her way to becoming EMT certified. “Scouts has taught me a lot about service to others, community engagement, leadership development, and that’s definitely been useful as a college student.”
But perhaps the biggest reward is leading a troop meeting and “seeing all of these girls in the front row,” said Nedrow. “When we were their age, we were sitting in the back corner. It’s just really surreal and inspirational to see the change that’s happened.”